Recent Cobb County murder highlights domestic violence laws - CBS46 News

Recent Cobb County murder highlights need for tougher domestic violence laws

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John Kristofak, home where murder took place John Kristofak, home where murder took place

There are new details in the murder of a Cobb County woman who allegedly died at the hands of her ex-husband.

Court records show Donna Kristofak told a judge she feared for her life and that a protective order wouldn't save her from her ex.

Police believe early Saturday morning, John Kristofak went to his ex-wife's Marietta home, entered her garage and stabbed her, killing her.

John Kristofak is now charged with her murder.

An advocacy group said this latest murder highlights the need for tougher domestic violence laws.

"I think people underestimate how controlling a relationship can be and how quickly it can escalate into violence," said Meagan Fulmer, president of nonprofit Partnership Against Domestic Violence.

Fulmer helps victims get away from their attackers.

"We can provide a safe haven and then work with them to provide long term on figuring out what that safe solution is for them," Fulmer said.

She said protective orders issued by the courts often don't provide enough protection. Nationally, 76 percent of domestic violence murders involved prior stalking. In Georgia, that number is 44 percent.

"If we can see the temporary protective order doesn't keep the stalking behavior from happening, and 44 percent of those stalked were murdered. There's a direct correlation," Fulmer said.

In Cobb County Superior Court on the October day John Kristofak was sentenced for stalking Donna Kristofak, according to court transcripts, she told Judge Adele Grubbs she feared for her life.

MRS. KRISTOFAK: I definitely want a permanent order of no contact, Your Honor. May I also say a protective order existed the night of the arrest and I do not feel that will necessarily bring safety.

THE COURT: Well, I understand that. It's a little different with a T.P.O. and filing a protective order, then you take a warrant. And then you go through this process. If he violates the order in this case he gets picked up by the probation violation and put in jail immediately. So it's a different type of order.

MRS. KRISTOFAK: Your Honor, I respect that, and thank you for that. My fear is that I may not survive that.

THE COURT: I understand.

MRS. KRISTOFAK: I fear for my life.

THE COURT: I can't tell you with a hundred percent -- I'd be lying if I told you -- and I am sorry you are in that position. But whatever I do, you can go out and -- you've got that risk, but you will have -- you will give her a copy of the -- the copy of the protective order. So the minute you get nervous about anything, you call the police. You've got that permanent protective order that's part of this criminal file that you can do something with. It's as close as we can get to a hundred percent. I'm not going to sit here and guarantee a hundred percent. I'd be wrong if I did that.

MRS. KRISTOFAK: Thank you, Your Honor. May I ask, You Honor, that it is on the record that I fear for my life?

THE COURT: It is on the record.

Fulmer thinks Donna Kristofak took appropriate steps, but more needs to be done to protect victims.

"There aren't a lot of laws on the books that do protect women," said Fulmer. "So basically, the biggest thing you can do is take out a temporary protective order, and then it only becomes bigger if something else happens."

There are three main triggers that cause a domestic situation to turn deadly, according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. They are the economy, when an attacker feels like he's about to lose the victim, and when an attacker is diagnosed with a major illness.

The numbers have escalated in Georgia in the past few years. In 2006, there were 106 domestic violence related deaths.  It went up to 123 in 2009. And in 2010, that number jumped to 132.

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